Mothers Gives ‘thumbs Up’ for Traffic Light Labeling

by Ann Samuel on  February 28, 2007 at 11:03 AM Diet & Nutrition News   - G J E 4
Mothers Gives ‘thumbs Up’ for Traffic Light Labeling
A poll by an online website Netmums, has the outcome that a majority of them prefer food labeling on packages to be simple and understandable, especially when in a hurry while shopping.

About 80 percent of the 17,000 persons interviewed supported the 'traffic lights' system of labeling over the guideline daily amount system (GDA), adopted by most food companies.

In the former system, akin to traffic lights, each color signifies an amount. For example, red signifies high, amber, medium and green, low. Foods like savory snacks may carry labels showing red lights for high fat content, green for low in sugar and amber for medium in salt, etc.

Cathy Court, a director of Netmums, says that the strength of the traffic lights scheme lies in its simplicity. She adds that some of the parents stressed that the easy-to-use nature of the scheme made it ideal to use with their children, who were more often than not, in a hurry to leave the shop.

In contrast, there are not much supporters for the GDA system where amounts of sugar, salt and fat are given in percentages of the total daily intake of an adult. This method is followed by most food companies, among them being supermarket giant Tesco.

The British Medical Association supports the traffic lights system of food labeling. Says Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, "It is absolutely essential for food labels to be simple.

'The traffic light system is something that you can even see from a distance, so you can start to hone in on foods which are predominantly green or green and amber and you can cut down on foods which are marked red", she avers.

In defense, Tesco argued that while the traffic light scheme may appear simpler at first glance, the real test was whether it changed customer behavior.

Says a Tesco spokeswoman: 'Our sales data shows us that GDA labeling helps do exactly that, and the 15 million customers we welcome into our stores every week are already using GDA labels to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle.'

The independent watchdog Food Standards Agency, has also come out in support of the traffic light labeling and would like to see a wider adoption of it by other food companies.

Source: Medindia

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